Skip to comments.Female Episcopal Priest Visits a Mormon Temple
Posted on 04/24/2012 1:28:27 PM PDT by Jeff Head
As I stood in front of the new Mormon Temple in Liberty, Mo., it struck me as ironic that close to 175 years ago, Mormons were forced out of this same state.
Whereas the Missouri public once urged their governor to force Joseph Smith and his followers out of the area surrounding Kansas City, Mormons began to return to the region in the 1900s, eventually gathering in such large numbers that the Church organization decided the region needed a temple.
Which is why I came to visit.
Latter Day Saints restrict temple access to members of their denomination who have proven themselves to be faithful and dedicated adherents. Because Mormons believe temples are the most sacred places on earth, one needs to be prepared to enter them by being an active member of the Church. (In contrast, chapels, where Mormons hold Sunday worship, are open to everyone. Temples are used only for certain rituals and are not open on Sunday so that Mormons can be at their chapel services.)
When a new temple is built, anyone may enter prior to its dedication. So, always curious to learn about the faith of others, I didn't want to miss an opportunity to see a site normally closed off to an Episcopal priest like myself.
My visit seemed all the more timely because Mormons have been in the news a lot lately, and so have their temples. Elizabeth Smart recently married her husband in a temple in Hawaii during a ceremony called a sealing, in which the couple and close Mormon friends and family gather together to witness God joining the couple together for time and all eternity. In less complimentary news, Elie Wiesel took Mitt Romney to task for his faith's practice of baptisms of the dead, which also take places within temple walls.
These headlines, in addition to my own curiosity, motivated my visit to the new temple in Kansas City, and with my curiosity came some questions:
What does a Mormon temple look like, and what happens inside it?
Would I feel God's presence in this space, even though it's not a space that's sacred for me?
Before I go any further -- and because I know it's the question at the front of your mind, dear reader -- no one tried to convert me. In fact, everyone was very welcoming. Members volunteered en masse, clad in pressed suits and dresses. They offered guided tours, bent down to put protective boots onto my feet so my shoes wouldn't dirty the carpeting, and offered me a chewy snickerdoodle at the end of the tour. They showed me every space from changing rooms to sealing rooms where marriages take place and answered every question I asked, no matter how challenging or controversial.
And in the end, yes, I did have a God moment.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Mormons go to temples to be close to God. Much like the ancient Jewish people believed God lived at the heart of the temple in Jerusalem, Mormons believe that followers can meet God most intimately in the temple. The reasons they visit temples vary: In addition to having their marriages sealed in the temple, Mormons also have sealing ceremonies that unite parents and children for time and all eternity. Others come to participate in baptisms of the dead, which are intended to be used only for deceased family members of active Mormons, though the Church acknowledged in the wake of Elie Wiesel's comments that others -- such as Anne Frank -- have had baptisms performed on their behalf. These baptisms are not intended to convert the deceased but rather to give them a choice in the afterlife to embrace the revelation of Mormonism: Assuming an afterlife exists, the baptized deceased are free to say yes or no as they please. Finally, Mormons come to the temple to receive their endowment, a ritual ceremony where followers make promises to God and receive knowledge about God.
Unlike a cathedral, which is primarily composed of one large worship space, a Mormon temple has a variety of smaller rooms that serve different purposes. There are sealing rooms and rooms for men and women to change into white clothes (every male or female Mormon who enters a dedicated temple wears the same white clothing) and instruction rooms where individuals learn about God in preparation for receiving their endowments.
It was in these rooms, and the final Celestial Room, where I caught a glimpse of God.
You see, as part of our final stop on the tour, our guide took us to a room with a mural of the Missouri countryside painted by a local artist. The room had earthy colors, browns and greens and rows of cushioned seats. This was the first instruction room. From there, we took a step up -- as if ascending closer to heaven -- and entered a second room, similar to the first in shape and size but all white. This was the second instruction room. When we left that room, we took another step up and entered the Celestial Room, a space designed to give those who sit in it a foretaste of heaven.
It was a simple room yet ornate at the same time, all white with sparkling crystal chandeliers, large mirrors, and plump sofas and chairs reminiscent of those that must have existed in Joseph Smith's day. Our guide asked us to be silent and said we were welcome to sit wherever we liked and take a moment to pray. So I sat down on a sofa that seemed to envelop me, folded my hands on my lap and closed my eyes.
Like Dante, who saw God face to face but had no words to describe the encounter, I have few words to describe what I felt in that moment. But I can say this: While it did not convert me, nor did it make me want to be a Mormon, the silence and peace I felt reminded me of the many other times I've felt close to God, whether in an Episcopal cathedral, in a clear, warm ocean or in my ratty old car. And because of that, I came to understand why temples exist and why they are so important to Mormons across the world.
And along the lines of Mormons being across the world: As I wrote earlier, Mormons were ironically driven out of Liberty, Missouri and the surrounding region nearly 175 years ago. It cannot be lost on those who visit the new temple that almost two centuries later, Mormons are often still held in suspicion by society, but they are far from being as vulnerable as they were in their early years. They are building stronger foundations every day, and striving, as they do so, to catch a glimpse of heaven.
I'll bet thaat HE 'knew' differently!
“So one has to wonder why lds, have such reverence for their carpet.”
I guess those gentiles are just like an infectious disease.
While I look forward to the Carmel, Indiana one.
Guess what I'LL be praying as I walk through it!
Buy better carpet!
Do the Faithful wear booties AFTER the open house?
You mean TRUE mormons?
Ones that actually FOLLOW MORMON scripture found in D&C 132; unlike the spineless weasels that attend the SLC based LDS church?
Elsie, elsie, ELSIE!!
WHY are you so danged HARSH to those folks?
"Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned;
and I will go still further and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has given,
and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned.
Brigham Young - JoD 3:266 (July 14, 1855)
I picture the Lord's Holy Word and Mad Mo and Joe Smith sitting thee with whiteout and crayons......
No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets
Thou shalt not kill unless they are unbelievers, then bag your fill
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead so you just need to ask yourself if you are worthy, and then you'll have faith you are and did a good deed by proclaiming it so.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe thatand shudder. because with my new easy bake mormon, you can become a god yourself on planet Xlingon-7 and chose whether or not to bring your wife through the veil.
--I dunno, it's either that;
A child's religion where you don't know all the rules so you make them up as you go;
or the devil trying to deceive many into following him to hell.
Don't you have a spray setup for the orange beast?
1 wife 49 mistresses 80 children
Hardly an example of virtue and worthiness
Hardly an example of virility either. That is pretty low yield, IMO.
Surely you've not PRAYED enough!!
They succeeded in killing Joseph, but he had finished his work.He was a servant of God, and gave us the Book of Mormon.He said the Bible was right in the main, but, through the translators and others, many precious portions were suppressed, and several other portions were wrongly translated; and now his testimony is in force, for he has sealed it with his blood.As I have frequently told them, no man in this dispensation will enter the courts of heaven, without the approbation of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun.Who has made this so?Have I?Have this people?Have the world?No; but the Lord Jehovah has decreed it.If I ever pass into the heavenly courts, it will be by the consent of the Prophet Joseph.If you ever pass through the gates into the Holy City, you will do so upon his certificate that you are worthy to pass.Can you pass without his inspection?No; neither can any person in this dispensation, which is the dispensation of the fulness of times.In this generation, and in all the generations that are to come, everyone will have to undergo the scrutiny of this Prophet.They say that they killed Joseph, and they will yet come with their hats under their arms and bend to him; but what good will it do them, unless they repent?They can come in a certain way and find favor, but will they?
--JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES, vol. 8, p. 224
My second marriage took place in a Catholic Chapel of a hospital. Again we are Baptist. Our preacher officiated with several Nuns and a Priest Chaplain as guest. Yes even though it was a second marriage for both of us and our preacher knew us he still did pre marriage counseling LOL.
In all seriousness though Biblical marriage in a church or otherwise is a man and a woman standing before GOD giving their vows to each other before Him and commitment before Him united through Him.
But; those churches do NOT have a 'requirement' on who can ATTEND a wedding in their buildings!
Weddings and funerals get the most UNBELIEVERS into church.
I've been to both where there were ALTAR calls after/during the ceremonies!
No church (in it's right mind) would exclude any unbeliever from attending any service on it's grounds!
WHITE CARPETS ???
Boy do they have a problem...
and here I was thinking the carpets were red...